Wednesday, July 11, 2007

d. a. levy

Speaking of great writers from my generation (my Dale Herd post):

d. a. levy was a poet sometimes associated with the Beats, or with the small press movement of the 1960s that grew from the 1950s small press scene into a genuine broad-based phenomenon, of which levy was one of the stars.

First he was a local star in his hometown of Cleveland, where he faced harassment from the police, and other civil authorities, for his small press publishing and his poetry readings etc. As many poets and small press publishers did in those days.

And a national star for those of us who were part of that national small press scene, publishing our own alternative and “underground” newspapers and magazines or running small presses that published books of poetry and such, or wrote for them and had our own little chapbooks published.

He was a big influence on my own development on that scene, and my choice to make my poetry home there. His early death, questionably by his own hand, and even if suicide, seemed at least partly influenced by the unfair treatment the police and others were giving him.

He put out a newspaper that was what mostly got him in trouble. I still have my copies of it. It was called THE BUDDHIST THIRD CLASS JUNKMAIL ORACLE.

Mike Golden—another small press poet and publisher on the alternative scene back in the day—edited and introduced a collection of levy’s poetry and collages published by Seven Stories Press in 1999 called:


Check it out if you want to have a window into the 1960s in a way no movie or book written to date has yet captured. And to see how widespread his influence was (though like many a star in that decade he was dead by age 26, whether by his own hand or someone else’s).

And check out this post on Nightlight to see how his influence is still present for many of us.

1 comment:

richard lopez said...

michael: i live in sacramento where a co-hort, co-conspirator, set up shop in the late '60s: douglas blazek. doug's old mimeo zine ole and press open skull published a lot of levy, bukowski and many others on the small-press scene back then.

doug's from cleveland and was pals with levy. told me once that he almost got levy to move out to sac, get away from cleveland, and slow down a little and concentrate his art. shortly after levy took his life.

my mind blanches at what we lost when levy died of a gunshot wound. more fully still, sacramento lost an opportunity for a great poet.

even still, sac has a full share of mimeo era poets, such as doug who is still quietly and devotedly developing his art, to d.r wagner and ben hiatt.

a few years ago a thick biblio of doug's work was published by his friend poet james den boer. it is a historical document not just of doug's publishing history, but also of the larger history the mimeo era.

b/c me at len200athotmaildotcom if yr interested in a copy.